Let’s say that you are familiar with a particular artwork from images in books or online. Is there anything to be gained from seeing it in person? The urge to see the “real thing” seems like such a straightforward idea. The painting purists will tell you, quite correctly in most cases, that photographs seldom manage to do a painting justice; the texture and brushstrokes are lost, the colours dulled, the sense of scale nonexistent. Performance and installations practically depend on an audience of course, although video and film can come close. But what about Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain — his famous 1917 ready-made, consisting of a urinal autographed by the fictitious R. Mutt?
I’d seen the famous scratchy black-and-white photo of Fountain countless times. Before I walked into the Mori Art Museum on Thursday, I knew what to expect; or at least thought I did. Seen in person, there were not likely to be any revelations about the texture of the painted signature or the exact colour of the porcelain. No surprises. The piece is really about an idea, after all. But nonetheless, I had the inexplicable drive to . . . [read more]
Just as a quick followup to my earlier post about the Twain quote that never was, I’ve been watching the people at the Mark Twain Project and other sources who are hard at work straightening up the record and attempting to straighten out the Clarence Darrow quote that was altered and attributed to Twain. This, along with the mess created by an otherwise innocent Facebook user named Jessica Dovey (oddly enough, an American right here in Japan) who ended up with her own words attributed to Martin Luther King Jr. Why? A third party apparently felt that Dovey’s quotation marks were mostly there to look pretty, and decided the sentence ought to look more austere.
Punctuation: it’s how we make smileys.
At any rate, as a kind of roundup, here are some other articles to hit the topic that have been brought to my attention:
Writer and Twain aficionado Julia Pistell did this excellent article on some of Twain’s other misquoted and altered words: Tweeting Twain Quotes that Never Were
Over at Wired, “Geek Dad” brushed up against the issue: How to Explain to Your Kids Why It’s OK to Celebrate Osama bin Laden’s Death
CNN’s . . . [read more]
You just can’t depend on reading carefully vetted and researched information on the internet. Don’t believe me? Good. That’s the first step. After all, the Internet has the capacity to spread lies just as quickly as truth, and what kicked off this particular rant may be a minor example, but it is a widespread one. And it is an important reminder to be cautious of the information you not only take in, but repeat.
What started me on this entry is the so-called quote being popularly attributed to Mark Twain, and which has been inextricably linked to the announcement of Osama Bin Laden’s death. The non-quote goes, “I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.” This, usually followed by a nice official-looking em-dash, and Twain’s name.
I did not bother to try and source this quote at first, because I was not planning to re-tweet or post it. If I had, I would have. I’m an editor. It’s my job to verify things like this. Apparently this is not the case for Forbes writer Alex Knapp, who decided . . . [read more]
A few months back I made a difficult decision. I quit writing arts reviews in order to spend more time writing fiction.
Arts writers, as other more famous names have pointed out, are the underpaid, under-appreciated public connection to the arts world, whose work gets sandwiched somewhere between the dense and sometimes downright myopic texts of academic writing and the breathless adulation of catalogue and industry writing. Reviewers fill an in-between role which attempts to make artworks accessible to the gallery-going public without talking down to the reader, overwhelming the reader with jargon or theory, and doing this without diminishing the complexity of the work (assuming the work is, in fact, complex.) I have never found it easy.
These are not the reasons I stopped writing my Weekender columns. These are the reasons that made it difficult to quit. I think good arts writers are valuable in this role (even despite my own temptation toward more academic readings of the work that art texts so often led me to), but in the end it was the choice between two loves, and I know that the arts will always . . . [read more]